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Golf Channel Testing Out New Octo-copter Drone To Film Golfers This Weekend

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the hey-why-not dept.

Media 97

An anonymous reader writes "In what seems like a surreal mixture of life imitating art, the Golf Channel has taken the wraps of a new camera drone. The hover camera appears to have 8 independent rotors supporting what looks like a gyro-stabilized HD camera. Though it is far from silent, the new drone will be on the course this week at the PGA Tour event taking place at Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. No word on whether or not Lord Vader will be using these to monitor rebel activity on Hoth."

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Cambot? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43218495)

I don't care what it looks like, I'm calling it Cambot.

Re:Cambot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218625)

CROWWWWW!!!

Screw golf (1)

SpaceMonkies (2868125) | about a year ago | (#43218525)

Screw golf, this is Slashdot. I want a how-to for building a personal octo copter like the Velo: http://www.e-volo.com/ [e-volo.com]

I wonder who's legally liable? (0)

Jinker (133372) | about a year ago | (#43218559)

Does the golf channel realize that commercial use of UAVs is illegal?

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43218617)

Do you realise it isn't?

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43224531)

You are flat out wrong.

The commercial use of a UAV is not legal. The FAA is developing a process for exceptions. The 2012 Reauthorization bill directed the FAA to:
“allow a government public safety agency to operate unmanned aircraft weighing 4.4 pounds or less” under certain restrictions. The bill specified these UAS must be flown within the line of sight of the operator, less than 400 feet above the ground, during daylight conditions, inside Class G (uncontrolled) airspace and more than five miles from any airport or other location with aviation activities.

There is no legal commercial use of unmanned aircraft anywhere in the USA. But that will change soon.

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

Fritzed (634646) | about a year ago | (#43218673)

They are totally fine since this is line of sight and they have permission to operate it over this private land.

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219739)

does that extend to attached hellfire missiles

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219821)

It is illegal to fly a commercial UAV for any reason in the US...mostly. The FAA has not yet (or may never) issued a COA (Certificate of Authorization) to a civilian company. Mainly just government agencies, etc. Everything else you read about line of sight, and a pilot at the controls at all times does pertain, but it is mostly for hobbyists out on a weekend as long as they stay below the ceiling height which can vary from place to place. One way we have gotten around this rule is to have an actual heli pilot at the controls...this seems to quiet down the FAA. On the other hand, if you have enough money and lawyers, you can try to obtain a Special Airworthiness Certificate - Experimental Category (SAC-EC), but I have never met anyone or a civilian company that has gotten one of these.

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (4, Informative)

asynchronous13 (615600) | about a year ago | (#43219823)

I'll refer you to Public Law 112-95 [gpo.gov] - note the bold section.

SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.

  • (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
    • (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
    • (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community- based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
    • (3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
    • (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
    • (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
  • (b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
  • (c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
    • (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
    • (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
    • (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (2)

rocket rancher (447670) | about a year ago | (#43222211)

Dude, I'll see your PL 112-95 and raise you HR 658. [gpo.gov] :) Make sure you check out section 332. This bill has already passed, btw -- it's the law of the land. The FAA has until 2015 to come up with rules to integrate civil drone use into US airspace. Until the FAA does that and publishes them, the commercial use of drones can't be characterized as illegal or legal. But that's okay, when it comes to liability torts -- liability can be established independently of the legality of the act that caused the damage. It doesn't matter if the driver that ran over your roses had a license or not -- he still ran over your roses and you can litigate them for compensation.

Re:I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

jon3k (691256) | about a year ago | (#43224169)

Holy shit, thank you so much for this. I've been trying to find the actual law that regulates model aircraft forever. All I could ever find was the AMA "guidance".

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (5, Insightful)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about a year ago | (#43218831)

Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport. I can say posting ignorant bullshit on Slashdot is illegal, that doesn't mean I have any authority. Did you know that there are guys that operate those little 2/3 channel helicopters inside of malls every day for commercial purposes? Correct title for article: PGA uses camera to film things. Or: Someone flies RC helicopter. Troll article is troll.

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (3, Interesting)

Jinker (133372) | about a year ago | (#43219147)

The 400' exemption in the FARs is *specifically* for hobbiest use. Commercial use is plainly not 'hobby' use. The National airspace system, and all the craft operating within it, and the FAAs authority to regulate its use do not magically start at 400 feet.

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (2)

asynchronous13 (615600) | about a year ago | (#43219845)

The FARs do not ever specify 400' for anything. That comes from safety guidelines published by a big model aircraft club. It has no weight of law.

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43220195)

In a sense, it does: SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT. (a) (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community- based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;

It's just not the only possible set of rules.

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (2)

asynchronous13 (615600) | about a year ago | (#43219723)

Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport.

You should really let the FAA know that. Four days ago they grounded an aerial photographer in Minnesota for using an r/c aircraft commercially. FAA grounds Twin Cities aerial photographer over use of drones [bizjournals.com]

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

Kozz (7764) | about a year ago | (#43219841)

Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport.

You should really let the FAA know that. Four days ago they grounded an aerial photographer in Minnesota for using an r/c aircraft commercially.
FAA grounds Twin Cities aerial photographer over use of drones [bizjournals.com]

It makes me think that hiring an aerial photographer would be like hiring an escort. Someone would find a photographer with whom they can share common interests, maybe have them over for dinner, become friends, and then maybe if the photographer really likes you, he'll leave you with a parting gift of some photography...

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about a year ago | (#43293717)

There's actually, AFAIK, companies doing this to avoid this "law." Basically you pay a guy for unrelated consulting services, he then flies just because he wants to and gives you the video. By law there is nothing wrong with that, as the flight was for fun and not for commercial purposes and is unrelated to a separate business contract.

Re: I wonder who's legally liable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220737)

Actually, commercial UAV flying in the US requires a real pilot license in most states.

Rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218571)

They make an awful lot of noise, but what about the rules? If a ball hits the copter is it a 'natural' obstacle, does it count if it bounces off the copter into the hole?

Re:Rules. (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43218623)

If they fly them low enough that there's a possibility of that happening, I might actually consider watching golf.

Re:Rules. (1)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#43218797)

That's the whole point of multirotor camera drones, you can fly them very low and very close. See the video in the article.

Re:Rules. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43221643)

That's the whole point of multirotor camera drones

It's not the whole point. There's also the massive cost saving of not sending a human up in a helicopter to get your swoopy fly-over shoots, which will still make for fancy TV from a hundred metres up. Given the amount of noise this thing supposedly generates, it may well be that that's the kind of shot they're looking to emulate rather than getting in a golfer's face (or ball flight path).

Re:Rules. (1)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#43223689)

The video shows them flying it just above the heads of the crowd, though.

Actually, I'm not sure they should be doing that, there's no guard around the rotors on that thing, and although it won't kill you, it can definitely give you some pretty good cuts if you happen to run into it. Speaking from experience...

Re:Rules. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43224421)

The video shows them flying it just above the heads of the crowd, though.

It shows it hovering over some people. Possibly enough to call a crowd, but no indication that I can see of what kind of crowd. Could well be a product demo rather than a public area on a golf course.

Actually, I'm not sure they should be doing that, there's no guard around the rotors on that thing, and although it won't kill you, it can definitely give you some pretty good cuts if you happen to run into it. Speaking from experience...

Okay, now you've got me wanting to go and see golf live.

Re:Rules. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43218635)

Well, in other sports with officials, the officials are considered part of the game field. If the ball/puck hits one, they will try their best to avoid it, but if it hits anyway, oh well.

Re:Rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218681)

Same as if it bounces off a cart. The ball plays where it lies, or you can take a drop and a two stroke penalty if your lie is unplayable.

Re:Rules. (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43218991)

They make an awful lot of noise, but what about the rules? If a ball hits the copter is it a 'natural' obstacle, does it count if it bounces off the copter into the hole?

I believe the rules are the same as for a ball hitting a hang-glider passing by.

Re:Rules. (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43219329)

It would count. Copter would be considered an "outside agency" beyond the golfer's control, so you would play the ball as it lies after coming to rest, no penalty. If the ball ends up in the hole then lucky him.

However the copter is LOUD AS HELL. I wonder why they didn't think of a remote-controlled blimp. That should be nearly silent.

Re:Rules. (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43219395)

Because if they want to move the thing around (quickly) and have it be somewhat immune to wind, a blimp isn't going to be able to keep up. Blimps are slow and get caught by the breeze.

Re:Rules. (1)

n6mod (17734) | about a year ago | (#43219777)

The outfit that built our (indoor) RC blimp has outdoor models that can cope with 25mph winds. (Which, by extension means it can travel at 25mph in calm air)

A blimp would be a lot quieter, but presents a larger target for golf balls. (more likely to survive a collision, though)

Re:Rules. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43225873)

Build a blimpcopter. The blimp deals with the aerostatics, the propellers compensate for the breeze.

Had this in Mario (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218645)

One of those used to follow me around in Mario

It's been done previously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218657)

The BBC had one feature prominently in the most recent episode of Top Gear UK.

Re:It's been done previously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218891)

Top Gear is a golf tournament?
Maybe that's why it sucks as an auto review show, it was always supposed to be a competitive golf tournament.

Re: It's been done previously (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about a year ago | (#43219015)

RC aircraft are being used quite commonly in a lot of film now. Recently there has been a lot of Rally filmed with them and the shots are spectacular. Hollywood uses them constantly, they just don't advertise it because of the negative stigma idiots like the title writer give these awesome tools. I have a quadcopter the size of my hand that shoots relatively good 720p video. I don't use it to spy on people I use it to take video of my son riding his bike, or nature scenes that I think would look cool (the ascending a waterfall shot is a good one, and very simple), or get unique shots of normally hidden architecture. Am I a criminal?

Re:It's been done previously (1)

Mr. Chow (2860963) | about a year ago | (#43221093)

They also carefully noted it was being flown by someone with a helicopter license.

Editors: missing an F? (2)

addie (470476) | about a year ago | (#43218661)

"Golf Channel has taken the wraps of a new camera drone"

And camera drone wants its wraps back!

The noise will be unacceptable (3, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43218711)

That thing's gonna be loud, so unless it's really far away and they have huge long glass on the camera, the players aren't going to have any part of it.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#43218871)

From the video on the page, the sound roughly equals about 10,000 angry hornets. No way anyone could focus on a golf swing with that thing hovering right behind them.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#43219151)

Kind of a loud, droning noise...

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43219511)

Kind of a loud, droning noise...

Which is why golf commentary is usually done in a studio far, far away from the game.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43219245)

From the video on the page, the sound roughly equals about 10,000 angry hornets. No way anyone could focus on a golf swing with that thing hovering right behind them.

In pro football, you're trained to ignore the sounds of fifty thousand screaming fans, which on the field can be louder than standing next to a DC-10 at lift off. That's true of just about every other televised professional sport, to varying degrees, except Golf, where apparently the players are incapable of tolerating even minimal amounts of noise.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#43219309)

I would argue that golf requires a level of focus when you're hitting that those other sports do not require. A wide receiver needs to know his route, a linebacker or tackle needs to know who his man is, etc. They aren't thinking about their foot placement, balance, hand position, the power they're going to need, which direction they're aiming for, the amount of curve or backspin they need to put on the ball, etc. If you disagree though, go out golfing with a group that goes regularly and start talking while they're teeing off. They'll be happy to fill you in on why you need to shut the hell up when they're hitting. Then you can step up to the tee and invite them to carry on a conversation while you're trying to keep the ball in the fairway. Basically though, it really just comes down to respect.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a year ago | (#43219413)

I think a steady droning noise is something you can tune out without much problem. It's the sudden or variable noises in the middle of your swing that are going to cause the problems.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222055)

That's just the problem. It's not a steady droning noise, because maneuvering is done through variable rate motors, as opposed to traditional helicopters which use a single-speed motor and variable pitch.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43219431)

I would argue that golf requires a level of focus when you're hitting that those other sports do not require.

You're saying that it takes less concentration to throw an oddly-shaped chunk of leather at an erratically moving target, in a wide variety of weather conditions, while a half dozen people who are built like a brick house try to attack you, while wearing a face mask and forty pounds of protective gear, and quite possibly doing this while in a degree of physical pain that would cause many to curl up in a corner and whimper "make it stop", than it does to hit a ball with a club on a warm sunny day, wearing naught but some light cotton clothing and a hat?

You'll pardon me if I'm somewhat incredulous at your claim.

Basically though, it really just comes down to respect.

I don't think you're showing very much respect at all to the people that take concussions, broken bones, and all manner of other physical injury, just so you can be entertained. A golfer is usually an affluent white guy, walking around a giant park, and the only hazards he faces are inanimate natural objects that, in the worst case, will cause him to lose his ball. In football, the hazards are angry men who want to crush your bones into dust and scream obscenities while they chase you.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219911)

Your margins of error are much smaller in golf. You get four tries with the chance for more attempts without an effect on the score in football. Also football is highly specialized, I don't know of any pros who play both offense and defense. Golf requires a much higher level of focus, if not only because the field is not uniform. New playing field every week. The case you build makes it pretty apparent you've never played golf.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

DangerousDriver (752795) | about a year ago | (#43221515)

It also has to do with each shot taking place from a stand still, very different to many other sports.

It's not just golf - watch what happens in tennis when someone calls out during a serve.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#43221737)

It also has to do with each shot taking place from a stand still, very different to many other sports.

It's not just golf - watch what happens in tennis when someone calls out during a serve.

Golf, Tennis, Snooker are the ones that come to mind as requiring silence.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#43225493)

You're saying that it takes less concentration to throw an oddly-shaped chunk of leather at an erratically moving target, in a wide variety of weather conditions, while a half dozen people who are built like a brick house try to attack you, while wearing a face mask and forty pounds of protective gear, and quite possibly doing this while in a degree of physical pain that would cause many to curl up in a corner and whimper "make it stop", than it does to hit a ball with a club on a warm sunny day, wearing naught but some light cotton clothing and a hat?

Yeah, pretty much. It takes less focus to run a pattern or throw a ball in football (where you're surrounded by your team), than it does to estimate range, power, spin, curve, etc when it's just you versus the golf course. Football players have a pretty wide margin of error compared to needing to put a 1.6 ounce, 1.5 inch ball within feet of your 4.25 inch target that is 300 yards away. The receiver is also not erratically moving, they are running a specific play and the quarterback expects the receiver to be at a certain position at a certain time. It's obvious when their timing is off. Apparently it would also surprise you that golf is not only played on warm, sunny days while you're wearing your favorite sun dress and designer hat. The recent tournament in Tuscon had snow in some areas of the course and a nice 30-40mph wind that we felt here in Phoenix also. It's not easy. It's a whole lot harder than throwing a ball, and I have a lot of respect for quarterbacks that are able to lay a ball right in their receivers' hands. Moreover, in order to win a tournament you need to be the best player out of maybe 100 or so, over 4 days. So yeah, that's what I'm saying, golf requires more focus than football.

I don't think you're showing very much respect at all to the people that take concussions, broken bones, and all manner of other physical injury, just so you can be entertained.

Don't delude yourself. They don't do that to entertain me. They do that to make money.

In football, the hazards are angry men who want to crush your bones into dust and scream obscenities while they chase you.

Which each and every one of them knew going into it, and they accepted it. That's what the game is about, right? It's about crushing people, hitting as hard as you can. It's a perfect analogy for war. I'm not saying football isn't dangerous, I'm saying that golf requires more focus.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222577)

Even professional football players were complaining about having to play under the drone of 10,000 angry bicycle trumpet blowers during the South African World Cup.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (0)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43218909)

F* the noise. Golfers are a bunch of pussies. You don't see the officials hushing the crowds during a free throw at an NBA game.

I say put a camera up in an army surplus Vietnam-era Huey gunship.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#43219121)

Heh, not sure the NBA is the best place to go looking for non-pussified athletes.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219179)

Yeah, you'd have to go to the WNBA for that.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year ago | (#43223377)

Noise may be a problem, but I think the propeller wind is probably a even bigger issue. I own an AR drone and it's 4 relatively propellers are already enough to blow all the dead leafs away from my garden. I wouldn't be surprised if this drone actually moved the ball or, at least, blows away someones hat. BTW, golf is one of the last sports that need a camera flying over the players. I know there is a risk of breaking the drone during the game, but I think soccer, football, baseball, rugby and all team sports where having a cameraman in the middle of the field is impractical could make a much better use of this technology.

Re:The noise will be unacceptable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43234055)

The golf course is going to hand out vuvuzelas to the crowd to drown out the noise of the drones...

Idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218775)

What's up with the WWW? Ghostery reported 20 hits on that stupid web page. Can we please revert to static pages? All you guys working with this stupidity which is ad-financed web pages, please stop what you are doing right now.

Drone? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year ago | (#43218847)

If its armed with Air to Surface armor peircing armament I'm so watching the show...

OT: TFA (4, Interesting)

Geste (527302) | about a year ago | (#43218957)

I am looking at how many cookies and scripts NoScript thinks I need to OK in order to get the full BusinessInsider.com experience. As they say: *plonk*

how'd they get around the commercial activity ban? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about a year ago | (#43219079)

This is clearly commercial activity. How'd they get around the FAA ban?

http://www.businessinsider.com/faa-ban-on-commercial-drones-2013-3 [businessinsider.com]

"However, the FAA currently bans all commercial use of drones pending regulatory rules scheduled to be published sometime in 2015."

Re:how'd they get around the commercial activity b (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43219313)

It's not a drone if there's a human operator controlling it at all times.

Wrong. Commercial remote control aircraft = banned (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | about a year ago | (#43219647)

Re:how'd they get around the commercial activity b (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43224241)

It's not a drone if there's a human operator controlling it at all times.

That's the definition of a drone - a remotely piloted aircraft. Autonomous and semi-autonomous aircraft are much fewer - most are only demonstrations doing partial flying tasks and not full missions.

You have UAVs at the top - which can be simply a remotely piloted aircraft (essentially a long-range R/C aircraft), and autonomous and semi-autonmous aircraft. (Same goes for UCAVs, except that those, of course, carry weapons - guns and what not).

Another more sinister purpose (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year ago | (#43219091)

It's also part of a gopher erradication system(Cue "I'm Alright" song)

Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (1)

caseih (160668) | about a year ago | (#43219299)

For those that haven't been following the tremendous rapid development of multi-rotor craft lately, and the stabilizing techniques that go along with it, here's a video showing the latest generation of actively stabilized camera mounts. It's incredible, really. And much of it is developed in an open source fashion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6daC4T_Qlpk [youtube.com]

It was only a matter of time before, much to the horror of the industry, hobby stuff starts to supplant the full-scale traditional photography of years past.

Re:Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222651)

I honestly haven't been following the development of multi-rotor craft, because I just don't see the point. What advantages do they actually have over traditional single-rotor helicopters? As an aerospace engineer, the only one I can think of is that at the extremely low end of the market, variable speed electric motors are cheaper than a mechanical swashplate. Is the industry just based off a bunch of amateur hobbyists that got into multi-rotors because of the extremely low barrier to entry, but don't understand the theory enough to understand their disadvantages?

Re:Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223093)

You're an aerospace engineer and you don't recognize the improved control characteristics of a symmetric multi-rotor design? Not to mention the improved failure survivability for the payloads which are usually worth several times what the flight platform costs.

You must work on battery selection for Boeing or something.

Re:Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43223295)

Read up on how a swashplate works. You pitch the plate, which results in continuously variable angle of attack and thrust from one side of the rotor disc to the other. It gives you more precise control than any multi-rotor design.

Now as for survivability, a hex/octo-rotor might be able to handle the failure of one of the motors if so designed, of course having six or eight motors means it's just that much more likely to suffer a motor failure. Having a complex variable speed motor means each motor is less resilient than the single-speed motors on a traditional helicopter design. On the other hand, you could always have coaxial motors on a single-rotor craft, and even if you lose the motor, there's still the possibility for an auto-rotation landing.

Re:Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (1)

caseih (160668) | about a year ago | (#43243245)

Think again. These craft are being used more and more professionally. And since there's a huge demand for aerial shots at low altitude, there's a huge market for these smaller devices. Even full-scale aerial photography is under some threat. Why hire a full scale heli to make a pass at 400 ft over a campus to do a shot when a couple of multi-rotor RC craft can do the same job, without requiring special permits, and do it faster, cheaper, and safer.

The advantages over a conventional RC heli are numerous for the purpose for which they are being used. They include first and fore most, cost. Multi rotor craft are way cheaper than an equivalent heli. That's because the parts are common, off-the-shelf components that are well-understood and very reliable. Multi-rotor craft are way simpler to build, operate, and maintain as well. No precision-machined swash plate mechanism is needed. A bad landing results in maybe a motor replacement or just a prop replacement. If a heli tips over, that can damage the blades, break or bend the swash plate mechanism.

Also multi-rotor craft are extremely easy to fly, thanks to the fly-by-wire. This makes this technology extremely attractive to the kinds of things the Golf Channel needs them for: slow-speed, close-quarters aerial photography. Think boom camera, but with way more flexibility. I could easily see movie studios (or at least TV studios) adopting these craft to do many of the shots that in the past an expensive rail or boom system would be needed. Lastly, flying an RC heli in such a way as to get useful photography out of it is very hard. RC Helis are very hard to fly. Even full scale require skill beyond your normal airplane pilot. The multi-rotor copters can be flown be virtually anyone with little experience. This is due to the amazing amount of work that has gone into autopilot systems. The computer makes the whole craft fly like a stable rock. Altitude and position-hold functions will keep the craft stationary while the camera is free to pivot around and film, all while the craft is being buffeted by winds. Sure you can do autopilot stuff on a heli, but it's fast and easy with a multi-copter.

It's kind of like Beta vs VHS. When it comes to this space (low-level aerial photography and filming), I think faster, cheaper, simpler is going to win out over aerodynamically superior.

Re:Hobby camera stabilization is getting amazing (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43246967)

Why are any multi-rotor craft easier to fly than a single rotor with a swashplate? Fly-by-wire means nothing. It's merely the replacement of old mechanical or hydraulic control linkages with electronic ones. Pretty much all RC aircraft are fly-by-wire, and always have been, with electric servo motors directly attached to the control surfaces by an arm.

Are you referring to electronic stability augmentation, control remapping, and autopilot systems? There is absolutely no reason why those systems hobbyists have created for multi-rotor craft cannot be reproduced for single-rotor craft. In fact, writing an autopilot for a single-rotor craft would be considerably easier, since changes in thrust will be nearly instantaneous, as you don't have to don't have to worry about that delay waiting for the propeller to spin up. You merely need to be aware of your thrust limits based off the peak power output of your engine.

As a counter argument, the primary reason such systems exist for multi-rotor craft in the first place is because they must exist. The cyclic, collective, and rudder pedals on a single-rotor craft directly control the main and tail swashplates, and allow for direct control of roll, pitch, thrust, and yaw. The controls are natural. On a multi-rotor craft, the pilot's control inputs must be remapped to the power outputs of the motors, to properly simulate the traditional cyclic and collective, and there simply is no yaw control to be had.

I don't question the use of multi-rotor craft in the hobbyist market. A true hobbyist will freely trade a lot of their own time in exchange for reduced cost. A multi-rotor craft makes sense if you're down within the few hundred dollar range. My point is that you're not going to be spending a few hundred dollars to carry a several thousand dollar studio camera, in a several thousand dollar mechanical stabilization mount. The craft itself is going to be in the several thousand dollar range as well. That being the case, you quickly reach a capability limit at which it is cheaper to just use one big motor, rotor, and swashplate, as opposed to ever increasing numbers of small, inefficient propellers and motors.

Oh, the side bets! (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#43219359)

"100 bucks says I can hit that little fucker with this shot from my five-iron."

The design (3, Interesting)

K8Fan (37875) | about a year ago | (#43219639)

Look closely at the image. This thing was designed by someone very dedicated to steampunk aesthetic.

Oh, come on. (1)

oneeyedman (39461) | about a year ago | (#43219727)

Could that picture be any more fake? You've been trolled.

Just goes to prove that is you have enough money.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219759)

You can do anything. As a builder and avid pilot of quad, hex, and octocopters I find this a little unfair. Myself, along with many others that I know have been strongly warned if not shut down for flying RC copters for commercial reasons. Yes, I too have a gyro stabilized gimbal to carry camera gear, but I am by no means an amateur or hobbyist. I have pre-flight checklists, first person video cameras to see where it is going at all times, backup batteries and flight gear, and have read and understand all of the rules and regulations. So what makes them so special? Permission from the landowner is one thing, I have done that many times, but still get C&D's. For the golf channel to be publicizing this is just a smack in the face to the rest of us who were early on the scene and tried to make a business out of it.

Re:Just goes to prove that is you have enough mone (1)

K8Fan (37875) | about a year ago | (#43220505)

You can do anything. As a builder and avid pilot of quad, hex, and octocopters I find this a little unfair. Myself, along with many others that I know have been strongly warned if not shut down for flying RC copters for commercial reasons. Yes, I too have a gyro stabilized gimbal to carry camera gear, but I am by no means an amateur or hobbyist. I have pre-flight checklists, first person video cameras to see where it is going at all times, backup batteries and flight gear, and have read and understand all of the rules and regulations. So what makes them so special? Permission from the landowner is one thing, I have done that many times, but still get C&D's. For the golf channel to be publicizing this is just a smack in the face to the rest of us who were early on the scene and tried to make a business out of it.

I think the question is this:

Can you get the FAA commissioner a tee time at Pebble Beach?

Re:Just goes to prove that is you have enough mone (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222687)

I've still be unable to get a satisfactory answer to this question. Why are you building and flying quad/hex/octo-rotors, as opposed to traditional single-rotor helicopters? This is a serious question. In terms of performance, loiter duration, maneuverability, pretty much anything that matters to a helicopter, a single rotor will trump multi-rotor craft every time.

Holy f*cking loud (1)

skine (1524819) | about a year ago | (#43219997)

There's a short video clip of the drone in TVA.

Unless that thing is going to be pretty high up, that is a loud, annoying sound for a place that asks for quiet when a player is about to take a shot.

FORE! (1)

Cyfun (667564) | about a year ago | (#43220045)

I'm all for this idea, but only because I wanna see how many golfers manage to "accidentally" whack the UAVs with a stray ball.

Octocopter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220169)

Be glad they're filming golf, and not Octomom.

Wind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43221423)

I've got one of those (without camera and only with 4 props). I estimate the weight of my quadcopter is way less than this thing, and mine is already creating huge amounds of wind under and around it. I can already see the golfballs flying around near the putting field...Not something a golfer would like.

Caddy, pass me the 12 gauge... (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#43222021)

This could spice up the golfing action...
Once the guys get pissed with the noise, and start packing shotguns in their golf bags.

Whole new meaning of "getting a birdie".

Actually, I might pay to see that..

Octo-Why? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222109)

Can someone explain to me why everyone seems so gung ho about these multi-rotor aircraft? Seriously, I feel like it's the early 1900s, and all the amateurs are coming out of the woodwork with the foolish believe that if one wing is good, and two is better, then twenty will be amazing, and anyone trying to use the legendary twenty one wings must be sabotaged.

The ONLY redeeming value of multi-rotor craft is that they are mechanically very simple. All you need is three static propellers, three electric motors, some sticks, and a drive controller. The barrier to entry is extremely low, so it opens the RC helicopter market to poor hobbyists. Beyond that, variable frequency motors mean while it is mechanically simple, it is electronically complex, as compared to traditional helicopters that run at a single RPM. Several small rotors mean you have high disk loading, which directly and negatively influences every important performance characteristic for a helicopter. Directional authority is only available in the directions you have rotors, rather than being infinitely variable as on a traditional helicopter. There's really no way to easily yaw them, so you must mount all your instrumentation on a 360 turntable.

I simply don't understand what advantages these things have over a traditional helicopter that you might want to spend more than a few hundred dollars on one. Everything I know about aerodynamics says if you can afford a swash-plate, you use one.

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#43222511)

Doing stuff electronically complex is really cheap. The electronics cost for a single rotor (flybarless) RC helicopter and a hypothetical 200 rotor helicopter would hardly be any different - since the same actual electronics are needed, just with more outputs and fancier software. However, something mechanically complex isn't like this - increasing electronic complexity (especially if most of it is only in software) doesn't make much difference to the unit cost, but mechanical complexity very rapidly increases the unit cost of your aircraft.

For my radio controlled helicopters, I've traded off mechanical complexity (mechanical flybar) for electronics (flybarless, with the flybar's function carried out by electronics). It makes the rotor head much, much simpler, more rugged, more reliable, and there's less to replace when the inevitable crash occurs since there is no longer the flybar nor its mixing arms and linkages in the rotor head.

From a drone point of view, probably the best (if cost is no object) is collective pitch twin rotor, either like a Chinook or like the Russian co-axial helicopters, because you're not throwing away 30% or more of your power counteracting the main rotor's torque with the tail rotor (and for a battery powered aircraft, this translates directly into more flight time or cheaper batteries). But that makes it BOTH mechanically AND electronically complex (so you see far, far more single rotor collective pitch RC helicopters than twin or coaxial collective pitch despite the power you lose to the tail rotor).

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43222843)

Doing stuff electronically complex is really cheap. The electronics cost for a single rotor (flybarless) RC helicopter and a hypothetical 200 rotor helicopter would hardly be any different - since the same actual electronics are needed, just with more outputs and fancier software. However, something mechanically complex isn't like this - increasing electronic complexity (especially if most of it is only in software) doesn't make much difference to the unit cost, but mechanical complexity very rapidly increases the unit cost of your aircraft.

If you're talking a hobbyist, sure. A hobbyist isn't likely to have access to a high end machine shop with the kinds of tools necessary to fabricate their own rugged swashplate. On the other hand, they can just slap on a speed controller with more channels, and spend their time coming up with a more complex flight control program. Buying a swashplate costs money, but a hobbyist's time is free. That's the low barrier to entry I was talking about. It's easier for the hobbyist to tinker around with these things.

Once you start getting into the commercial realm, suddenly time is expensive, and competent engineer time doubly so. If it takes twice as long for your mechanical engineers to spec out the rotor, but your electrical engineers only spend a fifth the time to build motors and control boards that only have to operate efficiently at one single RPM, you come out ahead.

For my radio controlled helicopters, I've traded off mechanical complexity (mechanical flybar) for electronics (flybarless, with the flybar's function carried out by electronics). It makes the rotor head much, much simpler, more rugged, more reliable, and there's less to replace when the inevitable crash occurs since there is no longer the flybar nor its mixing arms and linkages in the rotor head.

If you're trying to build something with a significant amount of payload, such as something designed to carry a $10K studio camera and high speed data links, chances are you're going to want more than two rotor blades, so a relatively simple flybar would not be applicable. You would need a more expensive, fully-articulated mount.

From a drone point of view, probably the best (if cost is no object) is collective pitch twin rotor, either like a Chinook or like the Russian co-axial helicopters, because you're not throwing away 30% or more of your power counteracting the main rotor's torque with the tail rotor (and for a battery powered aircraft, this translates directly into more flight time or cheaper batteries).

That's only half right. You're throwing away power because of the induced swirl in the flow. You suffer just as much loss regardless of whether you're using a tail rotor, or multiple counter-rotating lift rotors. That includes things like the Chinook and Osprey. The Russian contra-rotating craft like the Kamov or Hokum are the only types of helicopter which avoid this loss, by using a pair of coaxial rotors to remove much of the swirl from the flow. Multi-rotor craft with their small propellers could do this, by using a shrouded rotor and a stator, or even back-to-back contra-rotating propellers, but I've never seen any examples of people actually doing that.

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

jon3k (691256) | about a year ago | (#43224239)

Maybe it's much easier to write software to stabilize a multirotor copter so the video is better? Possibly less vibration from lots of small rotors? I don't know, it's a really good question actually. It seems like multirotor copters are the vastly preferred platform for video.

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43225077)

With a multi-rotor, you've got several motors all running slightly different RPMs, and you've got to deal with the variable resonance coming off them. With a single rotor, you only have to deal with a single motor that only ever runs at a single RPM. Surely that would be much easier to damp out.

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

jon3k (691256) | about a year ago | (#43225813)

I did some googling around and found a couple possibilities.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/micro-pov-camera-systems/488817-r-c-helicopter-vs-quad-fpv-camera-flight.html [dvinfo.net]

Being both a bit of a cinematographer and an R/C heli pilot, let me see if I can clear this up. As far as consumer-level helicopters go, the multi-rotor copters are much easier to fly and much more stable. However, their stability works against them outdoors when you need a fast, responsive helicopter to deal with any wind. While the multi-rotor helis can fly outdoors, they will fly ONLY if there is ZERO wind. (Trust me; I know.) The multi-rotors are good for first learning how to fly, but they get boring fast once you get good on the sticks. The key thing to remember with helicopters is that they are inherently unstable. This means if you take your hands off the sticks for even one second to scratch your nose or slap a mosquito, you WILL crash. (Trust me; if you think I am kidding, go fly a single-rotor helicopter outside and just see if you can scratch your nose!) Therefore, unless you are getting into the commercial end of the market, the only helicopter that will work for your purposes is a single-rotor with the traditional tail rotor blade. Consumer-level multi-rotor helicopters will NOT work unless all your flying is indoors. The other thing to remember is that learning to fly a radio-control helicopter is actually HARDER to fly than the real thing. (I fly both.) The learning curve is VERY VERY steep. Most people try it, crash a few times and give it up. It takes a LOT of work. (It is a lot like learning to ride a unicycle ... blind ... with a nest of wasps on your head ...) The nice thing though is that once you start to 'get' it on the controls, it is a lot of fun ... and next thing you know you will have 10 different helicopters in your basement and try to think of ways to sneak your latest purchase past your wife. (Wife: "Why do you need all these helicopters for anyway? You can only fly one - badly, by the way - at a time?" Moi: "Well, you have more than one pair of shoes don't you, and you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time?" Wife: "Call me when you can fly as good with your helicopter as I can walk with my shoes!" Moi: "D'oh!") There is a reason why the helicopter is referred to as the "crack cocaine of the R/C world."

As someone who owns a couple of RC Helis (including a blade eflite 450) I can absolutely back up what's he's saying. Literally scratching your nose can result in a crash if you're not careful. I've never flown a multi-rotor copter, so I can't comment on that.

Re:Octo-Why? (1)

jon3k (691256) | about a year ago | (#43225843)

Here's another one:

http://www.helifreak.com/showthread.php?t=376123 [helifreak.com]

Pluses for the Quads are: they fly very much like a coaxial machine, they have the "do it yourself" build element that you can't achieve with a helicopter, they are a good stable aerial photography platform at a reasonable cost, the control software is open source (have a look at the diydrones.com or multiwiicopter.com sites), they can be fitted with a variety of low cost sensors (GPS, Magnetometer, Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro etc) to link with the Aurdino board, they can take off and land on a dime, are somewhat insensitive to wind, and finally they gives a good flying platform to experiement with FPV and autopilot programming to make it behave like a drone. A well built Quad should give you a 10 min flight time. On the minus side, they are not really for doing serious aerobatics like a collective pitch heli ( though you can see people looping them) and when a motor craps out it all falls out of the sky. A 6 or 8 motor multicopter is less sensitive to the motor failure issue. Finally the visual cues are a real bugger with a multicopter. What is forward and what is backwards, sideways. It is easy to get it wrong. All good fun though. Phil

That's a good point about motor failure. Not only is the vehicle itself expensive, so is the camera it's carrying.

Old News (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | about a year ago | (#43222127)

Saw one of these filming crowd shots at a music festival I went to in Madrid last September. And they even used one on the latest Top Gear episode (Africa/Nile special).

I'll watch again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43222357)

I'll start watching golf again when these copters can watch the guy swing and then catch up with the ball, giving us a ball's-eye view of the flight towards the hole.

It would be cool if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43222461)

If the thing tracked and followed the ball in flight, that would be schweet.

Filming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43222653)

I'm surprised one of those Octo-copters has the capacity to lift a HD film camera. Or is the headline inaccurate again?

Top Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43223051)

They just used one of those on a recent Top Gear (BBC version)

Nobody cares (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43227561)

Its golf, why would you waste hours watching men drive their balls into a hole.

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